United Nations General Assembly has the most severe condemnation Russia’s aggression against Ukraine violated the UN Charter, which only allows the use of force between states in self-defense or under the authority of the Security Council.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also found serious violation International humanitarian law in the Russian conduct of war. In short, Russia has clearly violated the “laws of war” — legal terms generally prohibiting the use of force by one state against another — and international rules designed to limit the effects of armed conflict.
So what was the rationale for the Russian invasion?
from NATO expansion And the collective self-defense of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, accusations of insulting and attacking ethnic Russians, the Kremlin has presented a series of arguments to defend its position in the war.
These are among a growing number of diplomatic gestures by countries that their opponents use as excuses.Unsurprisingly, Russia cited Excuse used by the US The 2003 invasion of Iraq — with non-existent weapons of mass destruction — criticized Washington. Separately, the G7 countries have accused China of using the recent visit of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan as an excuse to conduct provocative military activities near the self-governing island.
If “excuse” is simply seen as synonymous with “justification,” then international law is clear: the appearance of a hostile military alliance on Russian borders is not an armed attack and cannot justify self-defense by force under the laws of war. Likewise, Ukraine’s The separatist area also doesn’t meet Russia’s national standards for joining any right to collective self-defense. Humanitarian intervention by force to protect civilians without the authorization of the UN Security Council remains illegal. This is Russia’s own judgment on the NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999.
However, the fact that these are not legal grounds for the use of force does not mean that they have no legal significance. Instead, they point to the need for greater scrutiny of allegations of violations of other branches of international law, which simply do not receive the same level of attention as the laws of war and international humanitarian law.
For example, it is debated whether NATO officials’ verbal commitment not to extend the alliance eastward in the early 1990s represented a legally binding obligation that has since been violated. There have also been allegations of violations of human rights law by the Russian minority in Ukraine.
Likewise, the US invasion of Iraq with false claims has not changed the fact that Iraq has a poor record of disarmament obligations. Likewise, for those who pursue a one-China policy, official foreign visits to Taiwan may violate the legal norm of non-interference in Beijing’s internal affairs.
While they cannot justify the use of force, treating these arguments as “pretexts” ultimately weakens other branches of international law that underlie the human rights, disarmament and diplomatic arrangements that underlie the use of force.
This approach betrays a vision of prioritizing events over the trends that lead to them. We risk allowing legal problems to build up until war eventually erupts, when the brutality of conflict forces us to seek urgent protection against the law of war and international humanitarian law. Until then, relying on these international laws alone faces other challenges.
When major powers are involved — as in the case of Ukraine and Iraq — a potential Security Council impasse can undermine the likelihood of law enforcement. Once the war begins, it takes on a life of its own, and it becomes more difficult to rationally obey the law.
The challenge of complying with IHL in a hot war, even well-intentioned, can be seen in recent debates Amnesty International’s criticism of Ukraine’s actions in the current conflict.
Therefore, the most important thing is to prevent war – an obligation under human rights law in itself. As the Ukraine war has shown us, the tragic result of neglecting the responsibility to prevent war is the greatest hostility between warring parties, resistance to any negotiated peaceful settlement, and unpredictable, potentially catastrophic escalation.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial position.